Italy has signalled its desire to offer a new-generation jet trainer to the international market, with the signing by Alenia Aermacchi of a letter of intent at the show to study the development of the M-345 HET.
Described as a "high-efficiency trainer", the product could be available for service introduction between 2017 and 2020, says Alenia Aermacchi. The design will be a further evolution of its previous M-311 design, with enhancements that chief executive Giuseppe Giordo claims will enable it to defeat turboprop-powered rivals.
"We want first to satisfy the needs of the Italian customer, but to also look at export opportunities for the M-345," Giordo says. "We are going to modify the aircraft, to have a better trainer." Changes would include replacing the earlier electrical system, changing the cabin dimensions and also introducing a new landing gear, he adds.
"Our training at the moment is fulfilled with some compromises," says Gen Claudio Debertolis, the defence ministry's procurement chief. "Now we are looking for the new medium step."
If advanced to the operational standard, the M-345 HET would occupy the training sector beneath Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 advanced jet trainer. For the Italian air force, this could see the type serve as a successor for its older Alenia Aermacchi MB-339s.
Under the terms of the 18 June letter of intent, the partners will immediately establish a joint working team, "to define the technical specifications of this new aircraft," the company says. The work will also address development needs, "taking into account the principles of cost effectiveness and to satisfy the requirements of the global market."
Giordo says the manufacturer believes a market potential exists to produce more than 200 M-345 HETs, including for international customers. To be powered by a turbofan engine generating 3,500lb (15.6kN) of thrust, the trainer would have a maximum take-off weight of around 3,300kg (7,270lb) and be capable of reaching a top speed of 430kt (795km/h).
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